The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Treats The Rings As The 'Nuclear Bomb In Middle-Earth'

Spoilers ahead for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

Even if you've never read "The Hobbit" or "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien and somehow missed the Peter Jackson trilogies, you've surely heard someone repeat the quote, "One ring to rule them all." Set thousands of years before the Third Age depicted in those books and films, the Prime Video series "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is all about the creation of the rings that corrupted Middle-earth, the rise of Sauron, and how he fooled the humans, elves, and dwarves about his sinister intentions. 

During the Second Age, when the series takes place, the battle with the great evil of Morgoth has been fought and won, but his successor, Sauron, has disappeared. Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) has been trying to find him over the centuries, and find him she finally has, in the form of Halbrand (Charlie Vickers). He is not, in fact, the rightful king of the Southlands (which became Mordor in the season finale), but Sauron in his fair form. 

Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay recently spoke with Vanity Fair about how they handled the making of the first rings in the series. 

Extra spicy rings

Payne told the publication that it was important to give "yourself a little bit of wiggle room because people have obviously strong feelings canonically" about major story elements like "Silmarils, mithril, the Balrog." These rings are the turning point for everything and become powerful symbols. The elven ones aren't corrupted, but the fact that Halbrand/Sauron took hand in their making is ominous, particularly since we know what is going to happen with the rest of them. Payne said

"We wanted to make sure that the rings themselves are invested with this otherworldly kind of power and energy. As they're making it, it's made with a special kind of process. But we wanted to put a little extra spice on top of that and say, 'Does it actually have some kind of light that comes from beyond what mortal or even immortal beings could generate?'"

They are visually different from the ones we see in Peter Jackson's trilogy, of course, but for fans, seeing them at all was a thrill, even knowing that it was coming. We know what they're going to do and what the result will be. These little rings are the beginning of a new and violent struggle between light and dark, and the One Ring corrupts almost everyone it comes in contact with. Very few can resist it, from characters as different as Isildur (the older version who we know from the films, played by Harry Sinclair) and Boromir (Sean Bean). Even Galadriel (Cate Blanchett in the films) is tempted, something that we get a frigtening preview of in "The Rings of Power." 

Shiny bombs

McKay has a great way of describing them, one that is right on the money:

"Rings are the nuclear bomb in Middle-earth. It changes everything. Everyone needs a ring, everyone wants a ring. They become the ways that these different cultures are subdued. It creates immortality. Sauron's ring creates the entire mythos. 

"Everything is different from here. The One Ring defines everything for thousands and thousands of years. It defines the Second Age and the Third Age. And we're just trying to find ways to invest the process of this creation with as much richness and meaning as possible."

Well, they're certainly going to blow this whole thing wide open. If you think about it, the rings are characters in their own right. Like the humans, elves, dwarves, and harfoots that we meet, they affect the decisions of other characters. The plot hinges on them. Their mere presence changes the outcome of the broader story, the behavior of people who otherwise might not have fallen to the dark side of things, and the future of this world. 

Viewers did have to wait a very long time to actually see them enter the series which is named for them. Now that the first rings have shown up, though, you can hear a ticking clock in the back of your mind. A new war is coming, and these shiny pretty things are about to blow it wide open.

Season 1 of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is currently streaming on Prime Video.